collapsed wrist

Paul Reynolds said: May 9, 2015
 7 posts

Many of my students struggle with collapsing their wrist when they begin a. i use the Wrist Rascal teaching aid and have much success, but I am curious about what other methods are out there for combating this. Maybe the Wrist Rascal 2.0 will incorporate these ideas. Thanks.

Mengwei Shen said: May 11, 2015
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
221 posts

Part of this is lack of finger control/strength to depress the string, thus using the rest of the hand to help. One of my pre-violin exercises (picked up in teacher training) is to have the parent/child feel the weight of the arm “hanging” from a clothes hanger, with curved fingers and finger tips touching the bottom bar of the hanger as if it were a string (no squeezing in this arrangement).

I also have them make the left hand shape at the shoulder of the violin, using the rib to show/feel a non-collapsed hand and doing finger taps and lifts on the violin body. Then move the hand to first position, and back and forth, consciously keeping the same shape of the hand.

Another thing to check for is that the head/shoulder can support the violin securely so that the hand doesn’t need to prop it up.

I would just rather address the underlying posture and physical aspects first (getting self-control of a motion that produces a result) and might consider a device in limited circumstances. So far I don’t teach with bow hold buddy, bow right, pinky holder, etc. either.

Paul Reynolds said: May 12, 2015
 7 posts

thanks for your comments. I’m going to try some of those with my students. very helpful. :)

Tasha Hogan said: May 14, 2015
Tasha HoganViolin, Piano, Viola
Elkridge, MD
1 posts

I agree with Mengwei. Making sure that the violin is completely supported by the head is absolutely essential. I am also very vigilant that there is no squeezing between the thumb and base of the index finger in the left hand. For the first several months of lessons, I also have parents do a lot of “molding” of the child’s hand as the child practices so that they never practice at home with a collapsed wrist. With a good set-up and gentle guidance, I have never had a student have issues with collapsing wrists that lasted more than a week or two. I also don’t let them start playing bow and fingers at the same time, until they can do the fingers with good position (teacher/parent moves the bow at first.) When I get transfer students who have developed the collapsed wrist, it usually stems from poor set-up and moving too quickly for their technical ability.

Christine said: Aug 10, 2015
Christine RewolinskiViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
6 posts

Assuming the body is standing balanced and the violin/bow is in its correct position, I have found that somehow the wrist is easier to move when it is a distance from the eyes (as it is in playing position) than the fingertips. There must be something in the brain that makes it so. When a young student finally is ready to move the violin hand to the fingerboard and drop fingers, it is difficult for the child to (subconsciously) locate the body part that needs to move. Sounds weird, but its true-although I am not versed in the physiological research that would explain this. SIMPLE FIX: use a magic marker to put a “dot” on the finger where you want the finger to touch the string. OR: if you put a finger puppet in the child’s first finger, I guarantee the wrist will not “drop” the puppet will. I line up 20-30 puppets, and even a 3yr old will not leave my studio until every puppet has a turn!

Garland, TX

Ian Snyder said: Aug 16, 2015
1 posts

I have had a lot of success placing a finger or two against the outside of the student’s wrist and asking him or her to push back against my fingers. This prompts the student to volunteer the correct straightening motion in the arm and wrist.
I picked this up from Lucia May, a former colleague of Mimi Zweig, but perhaps it can be traced back further.
Best of luck!

Nikki Routman Ebisu said: Aug 18, 2015
Nikki Routman Ebisu
Suzuki Association Member
Honolulu, HI
5 posts

First, the violin needs to be supported by the head and resting nicely on the collarbone. If not, the student will hold the violin with the hand (palm).

I also noticed that collapsed wrists occur often because of bent thumbs on the violin hand.

I teach very young students with little muscle tone and flexible joints, so thumbs often collapse. The student must be holding the violin with the head.

I have many “tricks” for the parents:

  1. hold the tip of the violin thumb as they play (it keeps it straight)

  2. turn the violin thumb fingernail slightly towards the G-string peg

  3. palm should be to the side of the violin, not under the neck. Draw an “X” on the center of the child’s palm, they should be able to see the X as they play

  4. Sometimes I tape a plastic fork, tynes facing down (using painter’s tape so it doesn’t ruin the varnish) to the bottom of the violin, I tell the kids not to get poked by the tynes as they play. they either love this or hate this btw

  5. Play the high five game- every time there’s an open string in a piece, make them give you high five lightly— it encourages them to be holding the instrument with their head.

Dr. Nikki Routman Ebisu
*Director & Owner, Hawaii Suzuki Music Academy
Owner, Aloha Tuners

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